2nd XV v Tewkesbury 2’s 1 Mar 2014

A repeat of last weeks friendly which saw sarries squeak out a win by 2 points ,led captain for the day Paul Grayson to issue the simple instruction of “annihilation is the game plan for the day!!”

With the one change in the side due to a need in the 1st XV,this would have been a side that would have performed well in the 1st XV league let alone the 2nd XV merit table.The awaited battle did not transpire however as tewks arrived with a player short as six members of the 1st XV were not attending,so regular 2nd XV players had to step up to fill the void.

With uncontested scrums and a man down the outcome was a somewhat foregone conclusion.Sarries scored a total of 11 tries with 9 conversions.Tewkesbury to their credit did not give up at any point in the game and had it been a fully fledged team that arrived,the contest would have been to its usual intensity.
It was a hard game to be involved in as the home side were rampant in open play and as to be expected players would do things they wouldn’t do in a normal game.the only sour note of the game was the facial injury to Jon crowford.

Yet again the younger players showed what potential they have to bring to the seniors In Future years,allied with good performances from the likes of waring,o Neill and Clarke in the forwards made for a pleased sideline.

A good performance in awkward circumstances which lays the foundations to build towards the cup game against old patesians.

Try scorers: Anderson x 2,arkell x 2,Lewis,Coleman,Francis,miles and white x 3 (latchford x 9 conversions)

Sarries 2’s – 73,tewks 2’s – 0.

1st XV v Old Richians 22nd Feb 2014

Saracens made the journey to Old Richians for a re-arranged fixture. The slightly changed side with just the one welsh player allowed Coach/Player Michael Pitman to use some inspirational words from the passion of the National Welsh sides aggression and determination to win and turn defence into attack.

The Playing conditions were 10 times better than the past few games bar a slight end to end gale. Saracens skipper Jimmy Mac decided to play with the wind. Richians kicked off and with a slight fumble from Sarries gave possession back to Richians and the 10 tried a chip over the defence which saw Sam Rimmer scoop up and make huge yards up the field and after a few phases in the Richians half Sarries were awarded with a penalty, Bradley Harris kicked into the corner for a well performed driving maul for Tom Patience to score. Harris Converted 7-0. Another restart saw Sarries knock on giving a scrum where the Sarries found it difficult most of the day due to a bulky Richians pack thus giving a penalty away which Richians converted 7-3. Sarries turn to restart saw an overturn of the ball allowing the new partnership in the centres between Dom Richardson and Jonah Manu gain excessive yards into the opponents 22. A few quick pick and goes allowed Dan Burnham to use the weight he hadn’t lost to good effect crashing over the line to score in his 1st first team game of the year, converted again 14-3. It looked to be all Saracens forcing a penalty for offside which allowed young Harris to kick 3 points 17-3. The tempo of the game had slightly dropped maybe this was just from the sheer speed of the first 20 minutes however just before half time another well placed kick from Bradley Harris allowed the unstoppable driving maul to trundle over for James McMahon to touchdown the ball, Converted once again by Bradley Harris, half time 24-3.

A quick team talk from Coaches Ross Nelmes and Michael Pitman asking for a quicker tempo and to really put the game to bed to put the message out that the Saracens were hungry for promotion and to win Gloucester 1.

The second half kicked off with the same intensity as the first from a great return carry from Tom Patience back to the half way line quick rucking and a disorganised home defence saw Bradley Harris supported by at least 4 players confusing Richians and some great footwork allowed Harris to score under the posts also converting 31-3. From then on it was all Saracens from each kick off came another great return carry from Patience or Skipper Jimmy Mac always at least making the half way which Matt Kelly quickly picked out of the ruck for the backs to hammer into the Richians 22 from a ruck Harris missed pass the ball out wide for Nick Hanby to go over for his 2nd of the match conversion missed 36-3.

With a similar format for each restart Saracens were just camped in the Richians 22 and with Jonah Manu hitting big lines destroying the Richians defence, slick hands to the left wing Matt Williams went over twice in a row in the corner Harris not being able to convert either due to the swirling wind. 46-3.

Finally Jonah Manu finally pierced the opposite centres and broke away to score under the post for Harris to convert easily, 53-3. Matt Kelly made way for young Kyle Thomas who immediately made an impact teaming up with his childhood team mate Harris. Things seemed to look very bright for their future at the 9-10 position. A few pick and goes sent Richians tumbling and Kyle Thomas sold a massive dummy pass to go under the posts for the final glory of the match.

Final Score Old Richians 3 Sarries 60.

Writers MOM goes to Bradley Harris for the backs for orchestrating devastating attack and kicking skill and for the forwards very hard to pick as they made the backs job so much easier I’ll let the coaches decide.

2/3’s v Tewkesbury 2’s 22nd Feb 2014

Due to a non league week and a large group of players being shuffled around or unavailable sarries fielded a mixture of 2’s,3’s and u18 squad players,with some players fulfilling roles not known to them. With a day of sunshine and no howling wind to contend with the scene was set fair for a good contest,which transpired.

The game was an arm wrestle as neither side were dominant in any facet of the game. Sarries gained ground but were held out by the defence and vice versa. This seemed to be the pattern for the whole game.

Finally a breakthrough happened as Jon Crowford made a searing break after a quick ruck,which gave him a two on one with pacey Connor Anderson on the outside which was duly exploited and finished well by the young winger.

Tewks responded well with their abrasive open side,centre and fly half gaining significant ground every time,however they were snuffed out by some last ditch tackles and mistakes. With Both teams evenly matched in scrums and having problems at line-out,the ruck area was hotly contested. Another quick ruck allowed Lloyd Arkell to chip over and Connor Anderson to gather and score. Latchford converted to leave the score 14-0 at half-time
With changes due to injury and the managers willingness to allow every player game time, the Sarries’ pattern of play slightly changed as the players. Tewks made minimal changes and this was to their benefit as they marched up the pitch to allow the impressive running open side to go over for a converted try.
The game was now starting to open a bit as the changes took hold.the introduction of a quick thinking 9 for Tewks paid dividends as quick ruck after quick ruck put pressure on Sarries which eventually told as they went over in the last seconds of the game.the manful defence of the Sarries under the posts forced Tewks out wide for their inevitable score. The kick to draw was missed and a gallant Sarries emerged victors.

MOM in writers opinion was Jon Crowford who made numerous last ditch tackles and was dangerous going forward at all times.

Honourable mentions for the young players Connor, Tom, Matt, Kieran, Ryan and Joe whose performance was exemplary in spite of their youth.

Final Score Sarries 2/3’s -14,Tewkesbury 2’s- 12.

3rd XV v Berry Hill 8th Feb 2014

On a day that was nothing short of atrocious and an international on the tele the fact that this third team game was played was no small feat.

The game started with the Sarries playing up hill into the gale. Somehow they managed to put some consistent phases together and strong runs Kierran White, Peter Lodge and Samuel Andrew Jones forced the Hill defence back and from a ruck close to the line Paul Crombie forced his way over.

Hill hit back and started to use the elements but tenacious tackling kept them at bay. Until at last there out side half kicked a penalty from inside his own half a rarely seen thing in any level of rugby.

Sarries again hit back and drove hard up the hill but a breakdown saw Hill sweep away to score through their classy centre.

Halftime arrived but no real break was taken as the agreement was to get on with the game.

The cold was now incredible and any passing movements were challenging to say the least. The game went into stalemate but eventually former Norwegian international player Andrei Hangar crashed over for the Sarries the kick was converted by Mark Vaughn. 12-8 to the Sarries two minutes left.

But credit to the Hill they raised one more effort and smashed their way up hill, helped by a couple of crucial decisions they forced a five metre scrum from which their excellent no 8 crashed over on the final whistle to win the game.

Credit to both clubs to put two genuine third teams out unlike others who use such days where lots of games are cancelled to plays Squad XVs.

Berry Hill were the winners but the real winners were the 30 plus blokes who kept grass roots rugby alive. All my men of the match

Final score Berry Hill III 13 Cheltenham Saracens III 12

1st XV v Brockworth 8th Feb 2014

Saracens went in to Saturday’s game knowing a win could take them to the top of the table. They also knew this would be a significantly more difficult challenge than last weekend’s game.

The game started with a fast and physical pace, with Brockworth put lots of phases together. Eventually they earned themselves a penalty just inside the 22 metre line and the kick was easily converted.
The restart was less than satisfactory with the referee penalising Saracens for being in front of the kicker. Brockworth, with the wind to their backs decided it was within range and chose to attempt a kick for an extra three points. Even with the wind however, the kick didn’t have the distance which allowed Saracens to regroup and string an attack together.
This attack was stopped prematurely as the pass that set Jack Lawrenson away was deemed forward and Saracens were then penalised for offside at the breakdown following the scrum.

After their run of poor discipline in the match, the home side managed to put some attacks together, with Brockworth being penalised for infractions at the breakdown and for being offside. These penalties gifted Saracens a lot of distance up the pitch with quick taps rather than lineouts due to the wind.
Saracens first try came from fly-half Brad Harris who on the edge of the Brockworth 22 metre line, offered himself as a runner from the ruck and split the defence, leaving himself a clear run to the try line. The kick fell just short of the posts as it seemed to get caught in the wind while in flight.

With the last play of the first half, Brockworth managed to slot home a penalty and make it 5-6 at half time.

A Saracens knock-on from the restart gifted the Brockworth pack, who had had it almost all their own way in the first half at the scrum, the chance to re-affirm their dominance but the Saracens forwards held firm, allowing hooker Scott Rowe to steal against the head. The opportunity was wasted however, as another knock on stopped the home team from building momentum. Saracens won a penalty at the following scrum and used the wind to send it halfway into the 22 metre area in the Brockworth half.
With lock Will Dove winning the ball at the lineout, Saracens forwards put their opponents tactics to them, utilising the pick-and-go to make gains. Brockworth were forced to give a penalty away on their own try line, which was tapped quickly by Saracens but was judged to be held up amongst the bodies. The home side couldn’t make the resulting scrum count, and had to rebuild from deeper in the Brockworth half.
From a penalty, fly-half Harris found touch, and from Dove again securing the ball at the lineout, the Saracens set phases, only to be held up again. It was the following scrum that would see the away side struggle at the scrum as Saracens drove them back for a try. The wind carried the conversion kick just wide of the posts, so the score stayed 10-6.

This try got the spirits up for the home side, with strong runs from full-back Sam Rimmer and winger Matt Williams, who left a few of the opposition on the floor.
The rest of the match simmered into a stalemate, with both teams driving forward and turning ball over. Unfortunately for Saracens, on form second-row and possible man of the match candidate Will Dove was taken off with a shoulder injury.

It was a slightly tighter in the few finishing moments as a spell of poor discipline and Brockworth pressure on the Saracens line had the home defence battling for everything, managing to turn it over and string an attack of their own right before the full time whistle.

Final score Cheltenham Saracens 10 Brockworth 6